Iron Harvest DevBlog #21 - January 2020

  Jan 23, 2020     Iron Harvest

We answer more questions and start to deliver early supporter perks!

News: Last Chance to Upgrade

To get final numbers and begin producing the physical assets, such as the mecha miniature and artbook, we’ll be disabling upgrades on the 31st of January.

This is your last chance get your mechanical claws on any of the physical goodies and perks from our kickstarter campaign. Please upgrade your game edition by logging in here.

Anyone who has supported us from the $1 tier and higher is able to upgrade for access to the Alpha/Beta, and any of our other perks.

Best way to support us? Click here to Wish-list us on Steam, you’ll know immediately if a pre-release version of Iron Harvest becomes available and won’t miss our release. 

Even if you don’t intend to play on PC, please consider Wish-listing us because this is a good way to show your support for the game and help us be successful upon release. And if you’re feeling especially awesome, please ask your friends to Wish-list us too :)

News: “You in the Game” Edition

A big thank you once again to all those who supported us on Kickstarter at the “You in the game” level. Now it’s time for us to start delivering!

If your bought this perk, check your emails, spam folders and/or account for instructions.

We need you to complete the “Ingame Avatar” survey by uploading 2-3 headshots that our artist will turn into a custom in-game portrait of you.

You’ll also be asked what in-game profession you’d like to have. By supplying this info, you also have the chance to become one of our campaign NPCs.

This all needs to be done before the 31st of January 2020!

An example of the artist painted portrait from Julian, our cough beautiful Executive Producer.

If you have already supported us, you can still upgrade your pledge to this tier here. Inevitably, some of you missed out on this opportunity, but take this announcement as an indication that our development is progressing well, and we fully intend to deliver on our promised perks.

News: Your Name in the Credits

No matter what level you’ve supported us at, we’ll put your name in the game’s credits.

Tell us what name you want by logging in here and completing the “Iron Harvest Credit Name” survey.

Info: End of Year Q&A - Part 2

Continuing on from last month's DevBlog, we answer all your questions going into 2020.

You guys really out did yourselves with interesting questions and so you'll find some great insights for answers.

It's a lot, but you did ask, so you only have yourselves to blame. Enjoy!

Game Feature Questions

When can we expect big maps or 8 player maps? - tomasz_exe (Discord)

We have a 6-player map and an experimental 8-player map in development. The 6-player map will probably be part of the Beta. Whether or not we’re going to release the 8-player map depends on our internal testing. It is very demanding when it comes to memory, so it might not work out in the end .

Is it planned to have day/night cycles in the game (like in WC3) and will it have an effect on units? - SentoN (Discord)

Our plan is that you can chose the time of day and the weather for multiplayer and skirmish matches. If/what effects this will have on the gameplay is not yet clear. Depending on the weather, the range of sight or the attack range might be reduced, possibly also movement speed. But if all that just makes the game less fun, we would rather leave it out and make it purely cosmetic

Are there heavy armor infantry units? - Justin Walberg (Facebook)

Yes, there are. Bunkers and some heavy mechs for example.

Any plans for other exoskeleton types and the possibility of making them weapons kits for late game? - Shaders...ellipses (Discord)

Each faction has at least one unique exo-skeleton and there is also a hero besides Gunter who uses enhancements. The weaponry is set as for all units.

In regard to actual game content, not just fixing bugs. Is there anything someone in the community said, that became a major topic at an internal meeting or started an idea or change of mind? - n0x (Discord)

After we release a new version, we collect feedback from all sources and compile a list. Once a week there is a “game design meeting” with the game design lead, the game director, the lead programmer and others who discuss the suggestions. We have the philosophy that the origin of an idea doesn’t matter. If it is a good idea, we discuss it.

Not all good ideas find their way into the game, though. Sometimes they don’t mix well with other concepts already in the game or are not possible/too hard to implement. More often we already have an idea for a feature and community feedback encourages us to implement it eventually. Examples of that are:

  • Enable backwards movement for mechs
  • Make exo-skeleton squads, instead of having them as a single unit.
  • Different weapons for bunkers/upgradable bunkers
  • Map editor/User maps
  • Reload indicator
  • More background story/lore -> Glossary
  • Skins/cosmetics (e.g. “Winged Hussar Recon”)

Will you have your files available for 3D printing? - Tom Barnes (Facebook)

Maybe after release. Until then we strongly recommend you check out Vidovicarts.
He created quite a few of our mechs and uploaded files for 3D printing on Thingiverse.

Will we ever get werewolves/knight-like mechs? - Zlo Sov (Twitter)

Not for Iron Harvest, which is based on the "World of 1920+". The knights and werewolves are from another of Jakub Rozalski’s universes.

How much visual customization options (if any) will players have when designing their armies? - Benjamin (Facebook)

There will be some. For example, you will be able to choose your own banner (for your flag poles and on your buildings). There will be also some skins and potentially attachments for mechs as rewards in our progression system (for example, for unlocking a certain achievement, reaching a certain level or playing successfully in the league). Additionally, there will be many options in the meta-game to customize your appearance there.

Any plans for Mech camo paint/kits that might affect their visibility of the machine or be just decorative? - Axelyoder (Discord) and Davis (Facebook)

There will be skins as rewards (see above), but they’ll be purely cosmetic.

Will mechs have different skins? E.g. Christmas hat or a Pumpkin head - Guzma (Discord)

Hehe. Mechs with Santa hats? We’ll see.
We’re going to have events and we have skins, so... stay tuned :)

Will infantry units be able to climb over waist-high obstacles? - 2Sk3tChy (Discord)

Yes. They can vault over any cover that is approximately 1 m high.

Will the game have an ELO, leagues or seasons based ranked leaderboard?- Kaos (Discord)

Yes! Well… it’s not ELO, but an ELO-like system. There will be a competitive ranked mode and a more casual multiplayer mode and seasons.

Will we get horse riding units - 2Sk3tChy (Discord)

Yes. One of our hero units is basically “The Cavalry". This hero’s squad becomes larger and larger as he levels up.

Will there be melee mechs? - August Jones? (Twitter)

Oh most definitely ;)

Will there be more realistic close combat with punches, swords and hatchets in the head?- David Vigil (Facebook)

Our goal is not to make it as gruesome as possible, but we plan to add synchronized kills that enable more graphic deaths.

Will the fog of war system be like Company of Heroes 2 whereby buildings can block your view of enemy units?  EIectron (Reddit)

No. We did tests with that and it didn’t feel good. There are a lot of assets in our maps and to constantly have big portions of the screen be visible one second and under FoW the next just isn’t great. We opted for the simpler and calmer “standard” FoW.

Will there be an option to change the HP bars, or at least the option to change the size or remove them? - Seleck84 (Reddit)

It is already possible to scale UI elements from within our setting menu. You can decide how prominently you want to see the UI in general. If there is interest, we could add an option to scale the overhead info separately or to hide them completely. It’s usually pretty important, though.

Will a unit design contest take place where the best design(s) could be implemented into the game? - EthosImmortal (Discord)

No, sorry. It’s too late for that. All units and buildings are already designed.

Will the story/campaign feature a nonlinear, territory-based perk system? -  Onxy (Discord)

No. We follow the “Warcraft 3 model”: Three campaigns (one for each faction) that are all part of one bigger narrative.

Will there be a photo mode with ability to control both armies so we can create dioramas and films? - Grey MJ and EthosImmortal (Discord)

You can play against yourself when you set all factions in a skirmish map to “Player”. Additionally, we could maybe release some of our debug options. They are quite nice for this sort of thing (you can spawn units, use free camera and so on). We can’t do it before release because of spoilers. But maybe we’ll see these features in an update after release.

Will there be off-map Abilities? e.g. airstrikes, supply crates, mech delivery - 2Sk3tChy (Discord)

No active abilities, but there are some missions/challenges in which, for example, supplies are being dropped on to the battlefield by an airship and things like that. When it comes to reinforcements, we’re planning an optional system for skirmishes and multiplayer that enables players to invest points for reinforcements they’ll receive when they reach certain goals in the map.

Will the HQ become a building that can be upgraded? - 2Sk3tChy (Discord

No. Barracks, workshops, iron mines, oil pumps and bunkers can be upgraded, the HQ cannot. 

Will there be mod support/community made content? - Willows "Trench Fox" WulfLast (Discord)

We would love user generated content for Iron Harvest! However, since we’re using Unity as our level editor, we can’t really make a neat little editor for everyone to use. Once we’re done with the main game, we’ll investigate if we can enable the community to work on Iron Harvest content within a free Unity version. It will be more complicated than other editors, so it’s not going to be for everyone. But it would be a way for dedicated community members to build upon our game. Hopefully, there will be the first user created maps on release!

Will there be a separate map maker tool with ability to put custom trigger conditions? - tomasz_exe and A furry (Discord)

See above. If it’s possible/feasible, we’re going to do “something”™, but we don’t know at this point how easy/comfortable and how powerful it’s going to be.

Will the AI/pathfinding be able to blow up rubble/buildings/wrecks to create a path to the target location if there is none? - tomasz_exe (Discord)

Yes, absolutely. Units evaluate multiple routes and if it makes sense to destroy (or jump over) something to reach a target faster, they’ll do it.

Where we're going, we don't need roads!

Any plans for E-sports? - Kaos (Discord)

We always say: “It’s not really up to us whether Iron Harvest is going to be an E-sports title or not.” We can’t invest tens of millions of dollars into an E-sport initiative with uncertain results. We’ll do everything we can to offer a great multiplayer experience. After that, it’s up to the community to grow the game as an E-sport and we’ll help wherever we can.

Will we get an official livestream from devs playing the game? ? - Rusviet (Discord)

Closer to release we’d like to do these. Tobi, our resident redhead, is raring to go and we’re also looking forward to seeing more of you livestream! Every couple of weeks we have an internal tournament. Maybe we could stream those as well.

Will the bunkers include support roles like medical bunkers, repair or artillery? - Brox9146 (Discord)

Each faction has three types of bunkers. An empty bunker, without any weapons, a bunker with strong capabilities against infantry and one bunker that is strong against mechs. It is often a good idea to garrison inside an infantry type that complements the bunker well (e.g. anti-mech Gunners in an MG bunker). There is also a field medical building you can build by sacrificing a veteran medic squad.

Is there anything you thought of adding to the game and then decided that’s just too crazy and would never work? - Benjamin Brøgger (Facebook)

There are a few things we won’t talk about because they might be part of a fun event some day or maybe an add-on. Other than that, there were some locomotion concepts for mechs that were on the stranger side. Does anyone remember the “He-Man Dragon Walker”? We also would have liked to have sandworms in the game, but somehow, they didn’t fit right with our setting ;-)

Technical questions

Will we always need an internet connection to play?- Nathan Raveau (Facebook)

You will be able to play single player campaigns and skirmishes offline. However, you’ll need to be online in order to play multiplayer, co-op, get achievements, progression rewards and so on. . .

What is the average tris count for your grass meshes and your tree meshes? They look great but are clearly low poly enough to have dense foliage without affecting performance. - Jeremy Scharphorn (Facebook)

We rely heavily on instanced rendering for our Vegetation, which enables to display large fields of lush grass without the heavy performance hit this would usually mean.

Every grass/plant asset consists of up to 3 levels-of-detail, ranging from 20-30 tris on the lowest resolution up to 150-180 tris on the highest. All visible instances of one Vegetation Type get combined into a single Mesh on RenderTime and shadowed via Screenspace Shadows. This keeps the cost for rendering millions of polygons extremely low.

Our trees consist of 4 levels-of-detail and a billboard. Which level-of-detail you will see in closeup changes based on your quality setting.

The tree featured here is right in the middle of the park resolution wise. Larger trees can reach up to twice the triangle count while those used to fill our forests never exceed a 1000 tris, even on the highest settings.

Will the game have V-sync to prevent screen tearing?- Gadzooks (Steam) and Oskar Lukianowicz (Facebook)

Yes. It’s already in the game settings.

How intuitive will the hotkey system be, and will it allow complete customization of all units/buildings/game functions? - mell00yell00 (Reddit)

There is already hotkey customization, so players can play in any settings they prefer. There are only very few fixed key bindings, for example “Esc-key” opens the in-game menu. When it comes to the “factory settings” we tried to be as close as possible to established standards, if there are any. It’s always a pain to re-learn those things.

Does this game use hit scan, or is each projectile calculated individually?- Suniwat (Facebook)

Beneath it all is a 2D simulation of the whole battlefield. Each bullet is simulated individually in this 2D space with some additional height information. So for example, if a Saxonian Stormtrooper fires a volley of five bullets at a target that is partially blocked by a waist high wall, some bullets will hit the wall, some will fly over the wall and hit the target and others might fly over the wall, don’t hit the target but hit a building behind it.

What's the chance of getting mouse and keyboard support for PS4? - Callum Sweeney (Facebook)

It is possible and we’ve already investigated it. The mouse & keyboard UI works on televisions (and you can "feely" scale it) and there doesn’t seem to be a technical problem we can’t solve.

One of the challenges is to keep the multiplayer fair, a match between PS4 players using gamepad and the other using mouse & keyboard is problematic. So, this is no confirmation at this point but if it enhances the experience, we’re all for it. 

Will there be LAN support?- Solensia (Reddit)

We’ve already managed to build a local server running on a PC, and we used it to present 1 vs. 1 competitive gameplay in Korea at G-Star 2019. So, LAN multiplayer is possible in theory. But we would have to improve it and make it more convenient to use. That’s definitely on our list, but don’t take it as a confirmation at this point.

What are the most known German game dev studios and how KAG compare to them? Do you still consider yourselves indie? - luk_zloty (Discord)

In general, there are not as many great and well-known studios in Germany. Our neighbors like France and Poland have done a much better job building a strong games industry. There are a couple of big mobile games studios like Bigpoint, InnoGames, Gameforge or GoodGame and some good PC/console developers like  Crytek (Farcry, Crysis), Yager (Spec Ops: The Line), Ubisoft/Blue Byte (Anno Series, Settlers Series), Deck13 (Lords of the Fallen, The Surge), Piranha Bytes (Gothic Series, Elex),  Rockfish Games (Everspace 2) but it could be more.

Currently, it feels like the German games industry might finally be on the upswing and it is our intention to help with that ;-) KING Art is one of the older German developers (20 years in the business and counting). We have the reputation to make good games with small budgets. Iron Harvest is the first project we are working on, where the budget actually meets our ambition ;-) With approximately 60 developers, we are the 30th biggest developer in Germany.

Yeah… we consider ourselves “indie”. Whenever we can, and it’s true for Iron Harvest as well, we keep total creative control of our projects and we try to invest as much as possible of our own money.

World Building Questions

Has the lore been changed for the Rusviets or is it the same nonsensical "soviets kept the tsar in power" thing? - Patrick Katalenas (Facebook)

Iron Harvest is an “origin story” and takes place a little before other stories in the “world of 1920+” you might know. There are changes but, yes, a country named “Rusviet” is still ruled by a tsar which isn’t super logical. But maybe in our world the tsar isn’t around forever?

If the game does well, would you like to do a sequel and expand on this universe? - Tyler Harris (Twitter)

Yes. First thing we would like to do is add-ons, adding new factions, campaigns and game modes. But also, spin-offs games like a grand strategy game (turn-based) or a 3rd person shooter could be really cool. What would you like to see?

If the super-Mechs like the “Tur” are added, will they be unique controllable units or more like set-pieces unique to the environment? - Rusviet (Discord)

All the factions have different-sized mechs and one “super-mech”, that can be controlled. These units are late-game units and of course, pretty expensive. In case of the TUR we had to make it a little smaller, to make sure it fits on the screen and doesn’t block out the rest of your army ;)

TUR, Polania's super mech, on the right. Banana Rifleman for scale.

Will we see other factions from the world of Iron Harvest be made into DLC of the game and if so, which candidates would the devs most like to see in the game?- Aaron Park (Facebook)

Hopefully! We would love to make add-ons. There are many cool options to chose from. Having an Asian faction could be really cool, but also other factions you might know from Jakub’s artworks. Or we could do something totally different. At the moment, we’re focused on the main game and making it a success that warrants more factions! :)

What is your favorite unit in Iron Harvest and why? - Ashton Grey (Facebook)

We asked the game designers and animators. Here are their answers:

You made us chose between our babies!

Dominik (Game Designer): SKS 156 “Wotan”

It is just a cute, loveable mech! Especially when it moves and turns with all its legs. Yet when it arrives at position, it just annihilates its enemies with brute explosion power!

Tim (Game Design Intern): PZM-13 “Mocny”

Once setup, it goes BOOM…and then everything is gone to dust.

Elliott (Game Designer): SHM-69 “Serp”

The “Serp” is the one giant enemy that no player can ignore when it arrives at the battlefield! Whenever it appears it draws the attention and is just spectacular every time!

Francis (Game Design Intern): Sd.KS 78 “Isegrim”

With its simple box form and its four long legs – I think the “Isegrim” is really cute, yet imposing, when traversing the battlefield. Sometimes it’s the simple things: It looks good and does a good job in every situation!

Maximilian K. (Game Design Lead): MWF 28 “Stiefmutter”

The working process behind this unit has driven one of our designers crazy so far (and he probably was not the only one) – yet the idea is something really unique I think; and alone the naming of the mech (combined with what it does) is just too good to not love it!

Sarah (Animator): SKS 156 “Wotan”

It is simply cute! And it was genuinely fun to animate with all its little legs!

Thomas Derksen (Lead Animator): SHM-69 “Serp”

From all mechs in the game, the “Serp” represents Jakub’s look best! We needed to compromise on most mechs with the sizing a little bit – but the “Serp” stayed a huge, impressive metal giant, dominating the battlefield!

Vladislav (Animator): Lech Kos’ Mech – The Rebel Leader

It’s a powerful, aggressive and melee focused unit, and the animations we did to translate this were really fun to make!

Rahel (Animator): Tag & Nacht

They're good doggos

Mailyn (Animator): Lev Zubov’s Mech - The Rusviet General

The two badass rotating blades are really cool, and all its crazy melee attacks make it even better!

Thomas Peter Paul (Lead Technical Artist)

PZM-7 "Smialy": The "Smialy" is definitely the most iconic unit of the game to me! In addition, is great speed and range perfectly fits my play-style!

Silly, Very er... Silly Questions

What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? - Valentin (Discord)

Depends, is it an African or European swallow?

well. . .I erm, I dunno . . .

Is the cake really a lie? - Peter Norell (Facebook)

THE cake? Yes, I know it’s hard to accept, but yes. Let’s move on.

How did you and this game get so awesome? - Joshua Hill (Facebook

No, you’re awesome!

Do you prefer eggnog or hot cocoa drinks this time of the year? - shdewit (Reddit)

Glühwein or cocoa, the historical Bremen Christmas market is just across the road from the office. Delightful.

What was the hardest time you have ever laughed in your life? - Zerg_x (Discord)

Not sure, but this is top-10:

Within the company, do you have morale boosting events? - ThibmoRozier (Discord)

Once a year, we have our company summer and winter festivals. We also have regular “Show & Tells” where the different teams show off what they are working on. Then there are the many unofficial activities. We do Wine Wednesday every week (The Iron Doctor insists on bringing his Gin), board game/pen&paper rounds or miniatures painting. A whole bunch of us have weekly medieval sword fight training or train for half-marathons. I find only one of the last two things strange ;)

What kind of coffee does Elliott prefer? - Night Owl (Discord)

Like himself, Black (of heart), bitter (of mind) and preferably fair-trade (of body).

Which came first, chicken or egg? - Kaos (Discord)

Egg! Darwinian evolution teaches us that a proto-chicken must have laid the 1st chicken egg. Which then hatched the first mech and from this the AT-ST naturally followed.

Will the Rusviet mechs be powered by vodka? - Shaders...ellipses (Discord)

Iron Harvest is DIESELpunk mechs. We can’t comment for the pilots, though hehe.

What is the sense of life? - Rusviet (Discord)

To buy Iron Harvest 42 times.

Pineapple on pizza? Thoughts? - Helen Mary Wood (Facebook)

Not bad. Come at me bro!

Info: End of 2019 Gameplay Video

If you haven’t seen it already, check out our latest gameplay trailer. It’s proving very popular and will get you up-to speed with our progress over 2019.

Contains new in-game footage and a 1st look at our cutscenes. Enjoy!

Looking Ahead

We're gaining more and more traction as we steam towards Beta release in mid-March.
The office is full of activity and excitement as we start to put the build together and we're pumped to show you what we've got as soon as its 100% confirmed.

Until then, we're presenting the game at conventions, such as Dreamhack in Leipzig this weekend. If you're in the area, drop on by and play the latest version of Iron Harvest against your friends! 

If you've already claimed your early supporters game, please also join us in our Backers Discord Channel. for all the latest news, info and discussion. You'll find the link here. 

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